Australia needs to chill out about marijuana and take its cue
from US states Colorado and Washington by legalising the
drug, the HEMP Party says.
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party president Michael
Balderstone says Australia needs to spark up a debate and a
referendum over marijuana laws.
"If we had a referendum here and had a proper open discussion
- a month-long discussion - I would think it would pass," he
"Our stance is that the law is a crime."
Mr Balderstone argues that the law might also be stopping tax
In Colorado, the sale of up to 28 grams - or an ounce - of
weed became legal on January 1.
State officials anticipate sales will generate about $US67
million ($A75.55 million) in annual tax windfall.
But critics say it will turn the Rockies into the stonies by
creating a culture of "pot tourism".
Mr Balderstone does not deny the drug has been linked to
psychosis, but argues the health damage is less, on average,
than that caused by tobacco and alcohol.
"Absolutely, it can (cause psychosis)," he said.
"It's not for everybody, I agree."
But he maintains people who get high are more likely to stay
in than go out and cause trouble.
The Australian Drug Foundation warns there is no safe level
of drug use.
"Those with a family history of mental illness are more
likely to also experience anxiety, depression and psychotic
symptoms after using cannabis," the foundation says on its
"Psychotic symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and
seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted."
In May a NSW parliamentary committee recommended legislation
to allow medical use of marijuana by patients with a terminal
illness, and for those who have moved from HIV infection to
The recommendation, rejected by the government, called for
patients to have up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or the
equivalent amount of other cannabis products and equipment.
A study published in medical journal The Lancet in 2012
showed 15 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders between
the ages of 15 and 64 in 2009 used marijuana that year.
That figure was higher than usage in the US, where 11 per
cent of the population got high that year.
Australia's pot laws vary from state to state - the drug is
illegal in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.
Possession of marijuana mostly attracts fines in the ACT and
NT, while WA users receive mandatory drug diversion
counselling if caught with 10 grams.
Marijuana for medical use is legal and regulated in 19 US
states, and has been allowed in some cases for the past 20
Victoria's Acting Premier Peter Ryan rejected suggestions
marijuana would be sold legally in his state.
"Absolutely not a chance," he told Fairfax Radio on Thursday.
"Good luck to them in Colorado - not going to happen here."
Mr Ryan said he had seen how cannabis could destroy lives and
result in further drug use.
"It is an interesting experiment, we will see where they are
in a couple of years," he said.